In its quest to redifine the public service, as per the recent public service study, the government has numerous interventions up its sleeves, come April 1st this year. The study was conducted to unearth the challenges of the civil service and recommend possible intervention strategies.
The recent decision by President Lt Gen Ian Khama and the public service boss, Ruth Maphorisa to downsize the public service by not replacing resigning and retiring employees was only the beginning as it will be followed by strict measures to make sure that the public service stays in shape and maintains its effectiveness and efficiency.
Khama recently revealed that he wants civil servants to be promoted on performance basis. During a visit to civil servants in Kweneng, the President said: “I would not have a problem if a perfoming certicate holder is promoted to supervise a degree holder or any other higher qualification if that certicate holder is a better perfomer.We want people who are willing to serve,” he said.
The reasons behind downsizing the civil service,Weekendpost has established will be to; “make it more affordable and to bring it in line with the new-scaled down role of the government in economic activities and to provide civil service with approapriate incentives,skills and motivation to enhance management and accountability.” Botswana’s wage bill is at 16/17 million Pula from a 54 billion budget and there are hundred and thirty thousand civil servants in the country.
A high ranking source at DPSM said that the downsizing will be achieved by privatising many of the inefficient and ineffective public agencies.The government, he said, will thus establish a symbiotic relationship between the private and public sector to achieve the goals of development.There has been constant clashes between the government and the private sector over the develoment of the country.
Maphorisa confirmed in an enterview with Weekendpost that Permanent Secretaries (PSs) and the rest of the civil service will with effect from the 1st of April be required to put on name tags among others. Ministers however will be excluded from this exercise.
The study has recommended the governmenment to inject new values and work ethics, approaches and attitudes to meet the growing demand for efficiency and productivity. Name tags, according to the study, will add discipline, a greater awareness of time and a sense of responsibility among others.
Our source revealed that “the government with the aid of the study has come to the realisation that the civil service traditionaly serves the state rather than the citizens, a culture that the government intends to root out”.
Despite this, another study by Salvator Schiaro-Campo has established that “in many countries in the South Saharan Africa, the civil service has sharply deteriorated,Botswana being one of the few exceptions.”
While he commends the emergence of local community initiatives,Campo says it is difficult to imagine how the civil service can be reformed on a lasting basis in most African countries without substancial improvements in governance,accountability,transparency and adherence to the rule of law.
Rightsizing-risks and oppotunities
Campo’s service study revealed that, “central government employment may be high in a particular country as a useful “flag” but proves nothing in and of itself. The role of the government and degree of centralization vary from country to country”.
“For example, although France’s central civil service, as a percentage of population, is one of the world’s largest (about 3.5 percent), and the United Kingdom’s is one of the smallest (1 percent), total government employment accounts for around 10 percent of the population in both countries,” he said further adding that what this proves is merely that the French have chosen a more centralized system of government.
Determining the “right size” of a government workforce,he said, must be done on a country-by-country basis, taking into account the functions assigned to the state in that country, the degree of centralization, the skills profile, and, of course, the fiscal outlook.
Retrenchment according to Campo,can provide the where-withal to improve incentives and produce fiscal savings. But overemphasis on re-trenchment gives civil service reform a bad name and virtually ensures resistance.
“Moreover, retrenchment is almost always financially costly in the short term—and is often politically costly as well, particularly when unemployment is high. Political costs are not inevitable, however. Under certain conditions, public support for downsizing the government may offset opposition from those whose jobs are threatened, and internal opposition can be defused if downsizing is managed candidly and equitably,” he said.
According to Campo,when downsizing is necessary, it should not be approached as an end in itself or merely as a reaction to fiscal problems.
“Without careful planning and respect for the “law of unintended consequences,” retrenchment programs carry major risks. The short-term risk is skill reduction, if the program inadvertently encourages the best people to leave”, the study warned.
Furthermore,according to the study, “(Voluntary severance and early retirement can be especially problematic in this respect. The difficulty is that these downsizing measures are the easiest to carry out.) The medium-term risk is recurrence of overstaffing if personnel man-agement and control systems are not strengthened. Long-term risks include staff demoralization, lower-quality service, and loss of credibility if retrenchment is perceived as arbitrary and opaque, particularly in societies ridden with ethnic, clan, or religious conflicts”.
What are other reform measures?
In addition to cost containment, civil service reform includes diagnostic and structural measures. Structural measures,according to Campo encompass reforming the salary structure, especially to restore competitiveness at higher levels; increasing the transparency and fairness of civil service regulations and giving greater weight to merit; increasing internal mobility; strengthening the capac-ity to manage personnel; providing training; and increasing accountability to the public.
Diagnostic measures on the other hand include civil service censuses, functional reviews of ministries, user surveys, data collection, and preparation of compendiums of regulations.
“Even in countries where circumstances are not yet conducive to reform, governments are often interested in diagnostic measures. A particularly useful starting point is a civil service census, which, if well designed, will not only uncover “ghost” workers and fraudulent wage payments but also provide the foundation for a human resources database and improved personnel management systems—which are needed to, among other things, prevent the recurrence of irregularities,” he said.
Campo warns that the short-term fiscal savings from com-pressing wages are obvious but must not be allowed to drive wage policy. Deter-mining the adequacy of wages,he says, requires a country-specific, in-depth comparison of public-private wage differentials for compa-rable skills.
“Certainly, when public wages are too high relative to private wages, pub-lic wage cuts improve both resource alloca-tion and equity. However, developing countries typically have either barely com-petitive or inadequate public wages. In these cases, public wage cuts set in motion a vicious circle of demotivation, underper-formance, and justification for further reductions. (Fortunately, the reverse may also be true: even small wage increases can trigger a positive dynamic),” he added.
In practice,Campo says government wage reduction has usually entailed larger proportionate cuts at higher levels (or salary caps) and, thus, progressively greater salary compres-sion.
“(Internationally, average public wages range between 3 and 6 times per capita income, and the “compression ratio” be tween the highest and the lowest salary ranges from 3:1 to 20:1, with a norm of about 7:1.) Although the short-term equity considerations are understandable, the long-term outcomes of such a policy are the departure of better employees, difficulty inrecruiting qualified outsiders, and a “deskilled” labor force too poorly paid to resist temptation, cowed by pressures from politicians and influential private interests and unable to perform adequately.
Beyond the deterioration of public goods and services, the result is a worsening economic climate for the private sector and an increase in transaction costs for the economy as a whole,”he said in his study.
He continued that In recent years, governments have sought ways to target wage increases to essential skills or functions. This,he said, may well be the right policy, but a word of caution about “performance pay” is in order here.
“It is intuitively appealing to link bonuses to yearly performance in terms of specific out-put measures. However, the facts show that bonus schemes have been only marginally effective in improving performance, even in the private sector and especially in the public sector, where outputs are difficult to quantify,” he warned.
The newly elected Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Executive Committee led by Pastor Reverend Thuso Tiego has declared their disapproval of homosexuality saying it is anti-Christianity and Botswana culture.
Speaking at a Media Briefing this past week, BMD President Tiego said Botswana has been a country that respects culture hence endorsing homosexuality will be catastrophic.
‚ÄúOur young generation grew up being taught about types of families, if homosexuality is passed, at what age will our children be introduced to homosexuality?‚ÄĚ he rhetorically asked.
He continued: ‚ÄúIf we are going to allow homosexuality then the next day, another person will come and say he wants to practice bestiality. What are we going to do because we have already allowed for this one (homosexuality) and at the end it will be a total mess.‚ÄĚ Bestiality is sexual relations between a human being and an animal
This according to Tiego will give those people an opportunity thus disrupting known Botswana beliefs. He however dismissed any notion that the decision to condemn homosexuality should not be linked to the top two of the committee who are men of cloth. ‚ÄúThis is a decision by the whole committee which respects the culture of Botswana and it should not be perceived that because we are clergymen we are influencing them, but even if we do, politics and religion are inter-related.‚ÄĚ
Of late the church and the human rights organization have been up in arms because of the high court decision to allow for same sex marriages. Ministries ganged up, petitioned parliament and threatened to vote out any legislator who will support the idea. The ruling party, BDP which was to table the amendment in the constitution, ended up deferring it.
BMD President further revealed that he is aware of what really led to the split of the party and he is on course to transform as they approach 2024 elections.
‚ÄúThere are so many factors that led to split of party amongst others being leadership disputes, personal egos and ambitions, toxic factionalism and ideological difference just to mention a few, but we are transforming the party and I am confident that we will do well in the coming elections.
In addition, Tiego is hopeful that they will take the government as they feel it is time to rebrand Botswana politics and bring in fresh blood of leaders.
He further hinted that they are coming with positive transformation as they eye to better the lives of Batswana.
‚ÄúWhen we assume government, we promise to be transparent, free and fair electoral processes and encourage pluralism as way of getting back to our roots of being a democratic country as it seems like the current government has forgotten about that important aspect,‚ÄĚ Tiego explained.
Reeling under the increasing barrage of stinging international sanctions, the isolated North Korean regime is reportedly up to its old trickery, this time in a more complicated web of murky operations that have got the authorities of five southern African countries at sixes and sevens as they desperately try to tighten their dragnet around Pyongyang‚Äôs spectral network of illicit ivory and rhino horn trade.
It is an intricate network of poaching for elephant tusks and rhino horns that spans Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with the main sources of the contraband being Botswana and South Africa.
The syndicate running the illegal trafficking of the poached contraband is suspected to be controlled by two shadowy North Korean government operatives with close links to one Han Tae-song, a disgraced North Korean career diplomat who, while serving as the second secretary at his country‚Äôs embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, was expelled in 1992 after he was fingered as the mastermind behind a similar illegal ring that was busted by the country‚Äôs authorities.
This disturbing tale of malfeasance by North Korean state actors is as real as it gets.
Recent reports indicate that authorities in the source countries are jointly battling to plug holes created by the shadowy syndicate which allegedly has on its payroll, park rangers, border officials and cross-border truck drivers.
Even more disturbing are allegations that some wildlife officials are conniving in misrepresenting numbers of retrieved rhino horns and ivory from poachers and getting kickbacks for their involvement in the pilfering of ivory and rhino horns from government stockpiles especially in South Africa.
In a shocking and well-orchestrated movie-style heist in South Africa, thieves in June this year made off with 51 rhino horns after breaking into a very secure government stockpile facility of the North West Parks Board (NWPB).
While some suspects from South Africa and Malawi were nabbed in a government sting operation, none of the rhino horns – 14 of which were very large specimens that can fetch serious money on the black market ‚Äď were recovered.
A report of the heist said the police were lethargic by eight hours in responding to an emergency alert of the robbery which was described by North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone as ‚Äú‚Ä¶ a case of business robbery‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
Thabang Moko, a security analyst in Pretoria says the military precision in the burglary, delays in police response, and failure to recover the stolen rhino horns is dubious. ‚ÄúThis development lends credence to suspicions that some government officials could be part of a shadowy syndicate run by foreign buyers of rhino horns and ivory,‚ÄĚ Moko says.
It is understood that in light of the rhino horns heist in North West, South Africa‚Äôs Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy on 1 August, shared her concerns to her counterparts in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique calling for greater regional cooperation to combat the illegal wildlife trafficking which she believes is being masterminded by the Far East‚Äôs buyers of the ill-gotten horns and ivory.
It is believed that foreign kingpins involved in perpetuating the illegal trade are mainly North Koreans vying against Vietnamese and Cambodian buyers in the quest for dominance of the illicit trade in rhino horns and ivory sourced from southern Africa.
Creecy‚Äôs concerns, which she also shared to South Africa‚Äôs state-run broadcaster SABC, echoed Moko‚Äôs worries that the North West heist may have been an inside job.
According to Creecy, there was a need for the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol)‚Äôs greater involvement in joint investigations by affected countries as there were indications of ‚Äėlocal knowledge‚Äô of the North West job and that syndicates, ‚ÄúHigher up the value chain actually recruit park rangers to the illegal ivory trade network.‚ÄĚ
Botswana‚Äôs Environment and Tourism Minister Philda Kereng is on national record admitting that poaching was a source of headaches to her government, especially considering that the daring poachers were making successful incursions into secure areas protected by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
This came after poachers gunned down two white rhinos at the BDF-protected Khama Rhino Sanctuary in August 2022 despite Kereng putting the time frame of the killings between October and November 2022.
Kereng hinted at the existence of Asian controlled syndicates and acknowledged that the surge in poaching in Botswana is driven by the ‚Äúincreased demand¬†for rhino horn on the international market‚ÄĚ where in Asia rhino horns are believed to be potent in traditional medicines and for their imagined therapeutic properties.
Botswana has in the past recorded an incident of a group of an all-Asian reconnaissance advance team teams being nabbed by the country‚Äôs intelligence service in the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
Masquerading as tourists, the group, with suspected links to North Korea and China, was discovered to be collecting crucial data for poachers.
Also according to reliable information at hand, an undisclosed number of wildlife parks rangers were arrested between September 2022 and January this year, after information surfaced that they connived in the smuggling of rhino horns and ivory from Botswana.
One of the rangers reportedly admitted getting paid to falsify information on recovered horns and ivory which were smuggled out of the country through its vast and porous eastern border with South Africa, and making their way to their final destination in Mozambique via back roads and farmlands in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
‚ÄúWe are aware that in the past year, some rhino horns and ivory illegally obtained from Botswana through poaching activities and shady deals by some elements within our wildlife and national parks department, have found their way out of the country and end up in Mozambique‚Äôs coastal ports for shipment to the Far East,‚ÄĚ a Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) source says.
Independent investigations reveal that two North Korean buyers, one of them only identified as Yi Kang-dae [confirmed to be an intelligence official in the country‚Äôs state security apparatus], acting on behalf of the disgraced Han Tae-song, financed the entire operation on two occasions between 2022 and 2023, to move at least 18 rhino horns and 19 elephant tusks from Botswana, including pay-offs – mostly to border patrol and customs officials for safe passage – along the knotty conduit across South Africa‚Äôs north western lands, then across south-eastern Zimbabwe into Mozambique.
According to a trusted cross-border transport operator in Zimbabwe, the rhino horns and elephant tusks were illegally handed over to smugglers in Mozambique at an obscure illegal crossing point 15km north of Zimbabwe‚Äôs Forbes Border Post in November 2022 and February this year.
The end buyers in Mozambique? ‚ÄúIt is quite an embarrassment for us, but we have solid evidence that two North Korean buyers, one of them who is linked to a former notorious diplomat from that country who has been in the past involved in such illegal activities in Zimbabwe, oversaw the loading of rhino horns and ivory onto a China-bound ship from one of our ports,‚ÄĚ a top government source in Maputo said before declining to divulge more information citing ongoing investigations.
Yi Kang-dae and his accomplice‚Äôs whereabouts are presently unclear to Mozambican authorities whose dragnet reportedly recently netted some key actors of the network. Han Tae-song currently serves as North Korea‚Äôs ambassador to the United Nations in Switzerland.
North Korean diplomats have in the past used Mozambique as a final transit point for the shipment of rhino horns to the Far East.
In May 2015, Mozambican authorities nabbed two North Koreans, one of them a Pretoria-based diplomat and political counsellor identified as Pak Chol-jun after they were caught in possession of 4.5kg of rhino horn pieces and US$100,000 cash.
Pak‚Äôs accomplice, Kim Jong-su, a Taekwondo instructor also based in South Africa, was fingered as a North Korean spy and returned to North Korea under suspicious circumstances on the heels of Pak‚Äôs expulsion from South Africa in November 2016.
A security source in Zimbabwe closely following current developments says there is a big chance that Han Tae-song may have revived the old smuggling network he ran while posted in Zimbabwe in the 90s.
‚ÄúThe biting international sanctions against North Korea in the past decade may have prompted Han to reawaken his network which has been dormant for some time,‚ÄĚ the source says. ‚ÄúThere is no telling if the shady network is dead now given that Han‚Äôs two front men have not been nabbed in Mozambique. More joint vigilance is needed to destroy the operation at the source and at the end of the line.‚ÄĚ
North Korean diplomats have, as early as October 1976, been fingered for engaging in illegal activities ranging from possession of and trade in ivory pieces, trade in diamonds and gold, the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit currencies, pharmaceuticals, and the sale on the black market, of a paraphernalia of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and other trinkets on the back of protracted and biting international sanctions against the reclusive state for its gross human rights abuses against its own people and flagrant nuclear tests.
These illegal activities, according to a US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, have raked in at least US$500m annually for the Pyongyang regime. Other global studies estimate that North Korea‚Äôs illegal earnings from the black market are around $1bn annually, and are being channelled towards the country‚Äôs nuclear weapons programme, while ordinary North Koreans continue to die of mass starvation.
In February 2014, Botswana, citing systematic human rights violations, severed ties with North Korea with the former‚Äôs president Mokgweetsi Masisi (then vice president) calling North Korea an ‚Äėevil nation‚Äô on 23 September 2016, at a United Nations General Assembly forum in Washington, USA.
Botswana has¬†close to 132,000¬†elephants, more than any of its four neighbouring countries, namely Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to a 2022 Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) Elephant Survey.
The rhino population in Botswana has significantly dwindled, with poaching a leading cause of the decimation of the country‚Äôs rhinos. Despite dehorning and relocating its diminishing rhino population from the extensive Okavango Delta to undisclosed sanctuaries, Botswana has since 2018, lost 138 rhinos to poachers.
The sharp spike in rhino poaching in Botswana came after the country‚Äôs government made a controversial decision to disarm park rangers in early 2018.
In a statement delivered in November 2022 to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) CoP-19 in Panama, the Botswana government instead blamed the surge in poaching to a shift of foreign-sponsored organised poaching organisations from South Africa to Botswana.
‚ÄúThis increase in rhino poaching in Botswana coincided with a decline of rhino poaching in South Africa from 2018 to 2020, suggesting a displacement of the poaching syndicates from South Africa to Botswana,‚ÄĚ the statement reads. ‚ÄúThe recent decline in rhino poaching in Botswana (2021 and 2022, relative to 2020) coincides with the increase in rhino poaching in Namibia and South Africa, further suggesting displacement of the poaching syndicates across the sub-region.‚ÄĚ
According to the Botswana government, as of 13 November 2022 the country has secreted its shrinking rhinos (only 285 white rhinos and 23¬†black rhinos) in undisclosed locations within the country‚Äôs borders.
South Africa has close to 15,000 rhinos. Between January and June 2022 alone, poachers killed 260 rhinos in South Africa for their horns. The country is home to the majority of Africa‚Äôs white rhinos, a species whose existence remains under threat of extinction due to poaching.
The major threat posed by foreign state actors including those from North Korea, to southern Africa‚Äôs rhino and elephant population remains grim as the bulk of the rhino horns and elephant tusks reportedly continue finding their way to the Far East, where China is being used as the major distribution centre.
Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has said he is disappointed by the remarks directed to him by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando, but he will just wait and see how far he wants to go with his remarks before he decides whether and how his response should be.